February Wrap Up at The Educators' Spin On It

It's been a big "LEAP" for us this Year into this blogging adventure we call The Educators' Spin On It.  We want to extend a warm welcome to all of our newest Followers!  We also want to extend our gratitude to our continued followers!  We're so glad that you've joined us and love hearing from you.  Thank you so much for sharing our site with friends and families and most importantly your children.   

Here at The Educators' Spin On It we try our very best to Parent with Purpose.  We enjoy sharing "Our Spin" on things that we post each week.  As Educators and as Parents we're always looking for ways to make learning playful and playtime meaningful.  February was filled with heartfelt fun and learning.  Here's what we were up to! 

"Our Spin" of February at The Educators' Spin On It  
  1. Afterschool Express: Decorating for Valentine's Day
  2. Baby Time: Ideas for Creating and Storing Toy Stations
  3. Baby Time: My First Scribbles
  4. Bilingual Babies: Paper Bag Color Book
  5. Kids in the Garden: The Indoor Garden
  6. Little Hands That Cook with Books: Dairy Group~ Balanced Eating Series
  7. Tot school - Literacy Development
  8. Little Hands That Cook with Books: Grains Group~Balanced Eating Series
  9. Afterschool Express: Colorful Heart Fun
  10. Little Hands that Cook with Books: Heart Themed Resources
  11. The Learning Garden - How to Grow Potatoes
  12. Baby Time: Valentine's Day Activities
  13. Afterschool Express: President's Day
  14. Fancy Nancy Explorer Extraordinaire Book and Activites
  15. Little Hands that Cook with Books: Heart Healthy Fun
  16.  Baby Time: It's Not Just A Diaper Change
  17. Bilingual Babies: Family Book
  18. Tot School - toy organization at our house
  19. The Learning Garden - Starting Seeds Indoors
  20. Afterschool Express: On the Hunt for Spring


Our LOVE BOOKS and Activity Swap has come to an end.  Thank you so much for all who participated!  If you're interested in the Summer Book and Activity Swap just email us at theeducatorsspinonit@gmail.com.  Until then please share your Book and Activity Idea on our LOVE BOOK tab at the top of our pages or by clicking here!  There are already MANY Books and Activities listed for you to read and create with your child. 


Additional Resources from February
  1. Bilingual Babies - Finding Second Language Resources
  2. Gardening with Kids- The Heirloom Life Gardener Re...
  3. Top Ten Reasons I Love Sharing Valentine's Day with My Children
  4. Little Hands that Cook with Books: Dr Seuss
This is our assortment of activities that we enjoy sharing each week with you.


Did you MISS January's Wrap Up?  

Little Hands that Cook with Books and Dr. Seuss

We're joining to celebrate Dr. Seuss's Birthday and NEA's Read Across America Day! Here are some of our favorite's from Dr. Suess that we'll be including in our Little Hands that Cook with Books and Dr. Seuss this week. 

       

The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss are one of the first BIG books that your child will be able to read all by themselves as they become emergent readers.  It's a special moment when they realize they've read it ALL by themselves.  What a great way to celebrate than with a special Dr. Seuss inspired Snack. 



Here are a few suggestions for Dr. Seuss Themed Snacks

  • Dr. Seuss Cupcakes: Make blue frosting and add cracker fish to the top
  • One Fish Two Fish Jello:  Make Blue jello and add gummy fish to them  
  • Make your Own Fish Crackers: Make fish crackers and create your own Seuss Inspired story
  • The Cat and the Hat Hat : Attach red lifesaver gummies with white frosting to a round cookie or a rice cake with strawberry slices and cucumber slices or pattern bananas and strawberries to create a hat! 
  • Lorax Trees:  Attach cheese to pretzels sticks 

There are so many resources for finding ideas for Dr. Seuss activities for your child.  I've done searching for you to find some excellent resources for your child.  I've included Snack Ideas and Activity Ideas for your little ones.  Hope you enjoy and inspire them to become great thinkers and doers! 
  Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!


Dr. Seuss Snack Ideas



Dr. Seuss Virtual Book Club for Kids

Dr. Seuss Activities and Resources



Dr. Seuss Red Picture Frame Idea

We had so much fun with each of our children creating a Dr. Suess Moment with the red frame.  I encourage you to do this at home or school too.  The best part is you can use the frame for other holidays too including Valentine's Day, Christmas, Fourth of July or Back to School.  For more Dr. Seuss Activities visit the Dr. Seuss Virtual Book Club for Kids 



Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to amazon



“Today you are You, that is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

- Dr. Seuss

Bilingual Babies - Finding Second Language Resources

I was recently asked where I find my resources that I use to teach our children Russian.  This is an excellent question and although I will tell you where to find resources to teach Russian as a second language, you can use these same ideas to find the language your family is learning!
1. In-laws and Friends - The first place I always start is by asking anyone who lives in Russia to send or bring us learning materials.  The things I ask for are
  • Traditional books, (not an English book translated into Russian, but a true Russian written book).
  • Talking books or books with a battery component
  • ABC puzzles and blocks
  • Kids workbooks and educational primers
  • Learning Posters
  • CD's and DVD's Sesame Street (Улица Сезам) is produced in many countries around the world and is an organization I would recommend looking into.  The show format is the same and they address age appropriate concepts, but videos do not just translate the USA version, rather are created specifically for that country.   These DVD's are not readily available due to cost (around $20 each), but my in-laws are able to pre-order them from one specific media store in their city.
Here is a short video about how I organize my book shelf to include these Russian books.



2.  Another way to get some of the above items are online stores such as Amazon.  This gets tricky with languages like Russian, because materials are not as readily available, but some products do exist.



3. You Tube - there are many videos available in other languages, but I strongly urge you to PREVIEW without children present.  Some of the content is not appropriate for children.  I have several videos on our playlist and will let the children watch them once in a while.  Here are some links to the Russian videos I may show my children.

We've even made our own You Tube videos, which brings me to the next way we get our learning resources!


4. Make your own.  We often find ourselves making the majority of our own learning materials. 
  • My husband translates books, magazines, and posters.  He just writes the Russian translation into the book using a permanent marker next to the words in English. Here are some more ideas!
  • He will also write a sentence on a piece of paper and let the children illustrate it to create our own simple posters. We have been talking about spring this week and each child told him what they liked to do outside in the spring.  It says, "I like to swing on the swing in spring,"  in Russian of course!  We then put these pictures on our fridge and re-visit them daily to give the children multiple exposures to the vocabulary. I may ask her to point to a specific word, read it to me, or tell me something else she likes to do in the spring.
  • I also make worksheets and easy reading books for the kids
    My most recent packet uses dot-markers to learn the Cyrillic Letters.  It is available for
    purchase at Teachers Notebook.
Both Kim and I are trying to parent with purpose.  We feel that early and continued exposure to another language is important for our children.  On many Monday's we will continue to bring you helpful tips, advice, and stories on our adventures raising biligual children.  Although I am teaching my children Russian and she is teaching her children Hindi, the tips, advice, and stories may inspire you to spend more time interacting with your children in the language your family chooses! 


Afterschool Express: On the Hunt for Spring

Grab your camera  and off we go! 

A new season is starting to sneak up on us... at least down here in the South. 

Teaching our children to become observers is a vital lesson in life.  We're going on a walk around our neighborhood to see if we can spot signs of Spring.  Do you see it yet in your neighborhood? 

Grass is turning green
Bushes are sprouting new leaves
Trees are blooming
Bushes are blooming
Tree are growing tiny leaves
Roses are growing red leaves
Seeds are starting to sprout in the garden.
Bird are making nest in the trees
Baby duckling have even arrived at the Duck Pond. 

Take your child on a nature walk and see what they can discover with their own observation skills.  Find a way to document this change with them over a time period.  Using a kid friendly camera from their view is fun.  We used this Hunt for Spring Checklist to write down what we saw.  Here are some of our favorites from our walks this week afterschool. 

This is what we saw on our walk to my sister in law's house... a Peach Tree

This is what we saw on our walk by the pond...ducklings

This is what we found in the back yard...a Strawberry Blossom 

We transplanted some strawberry plants and by the end of the week they had a blossom!  Time to make our Plant Labels for our Learning Garden.  We even followed Amanda's post about planting Potatoes, my daughter's class planted them too at school.  It will be fun to compare.  

Create a Spring Journal
Later in the week we would come home and write in a Spring Journal what we observed.  Observation is a great skill to use.  When creating your own Plant Journal, have  them illustrate it first , it will be fresh on their mind and in the camera for reference.  Then they can write about what they saw.  Encourage them to include details.  Go out a few days later and observe with them if things have changed. 

More Journal Ideas:
Make a spring collage out of pictures from magazines or real objects
Glue the discoveries you find onto a page and then attach the words. 
Younger children doing this activity can cut out and add spring words to their pictures.
Practice finding the beginning sounds of spring objects they draw.



Not quite ready to see outdoors changing yet? 
Start an indoor garden!  Don't forget Your Plant Journal!

Additional Resources for Spring
Julie from Just Playing Around has a Great Idea for Observing Spring with her children. 
Spring Treasure Box from Little Wonder Days
Sharing Birds with your Child 
First Day of Spring!  Share your Spring Photo on our facebook page
I wonder how spring looks in different parts of the world?



The Educators Spin On It
This week's party is hosted by Mama Smiles

The Afterschool Blog Hop is co-hosted by:




Come Join the Fun and Grab our Button!
Little Wonders' Days

LOOKING FOR MORE ACTIVITIES?
                    
It's Spring!  Let's Get Out into the Garden!  Here's our Kids in the Garden ideas 
Here's our  After School Activities and Adventures  
Tip Junkie handmade projects
We've linked up!  

The Learning Garden - Starting Seeds Indoors

I have never been very successful at starting seeds inside. As a matter of fact, I have tried unsuccessfully for 3 years to start tomatoes and peppers inside. Each year, I start the seeds and for one reason or another, end up buying transplants at the local Feed and Seed store. This year, I have received a Southern Small Garden Seed Bucket from Baker Creek Seeds to review for all of you and I am determined to have some healthy transplants for my garden this spring! Please note that I have no special training in gardening, but that I enjoy teaching my children about the world, having them learn about food and where it comes from, and being able to pick fresh produce to feed our family.

While we were living in an apartment, we belonged to a local organic crop share (CSA) Each week we picked up a bag of in-season produce that was grown by our farmers. We learned to cook with foods that we had never even considered before and our kids learned to like greens like Kale and Escarole. This Small Garden Bucket reminded me of why we joined the CSA. There are more than 15 types of vegetables and 30 varieties. It was full of seeds to plant and many of them are not ones that I would have selected based on their catalog description, therefor encouraging me to "plant outside my comfort zone" as one reviewer stated. I also purchased several seed packets of my own as well. There were some Russian Heirloom Varieties that I just couldn't resist trying!!!


I asked the staff at Baker Creek for their seed starting suggestions, this is what Kathy wrote to me;
"As for backyard garden tips: pay attention to shade and/or lack thereof when planting, keep seeds moist when sprouting, and then keep the soil moist but not overly wet. Be sure to thin the radishes after they come up so they will have room to grow. Thinned plants can be used in salads. Take lots of photos and keep a journal throughout the process. You should find planting instructions on the back of each seed packet. We wish you successful gardening. "


So today, I am going to try and limit myself to writing about my indoor starts, mainly tomatoes and peppers. I wrote a post about using seeds vs transplants here.  As you can see by the first picture, my seeds have sprouted - YIPEEE!!!! I planted them in re-used containers; ones from flats of flowers others in plastic strawberry containers.  I know they recommend using the seed starting soil, but that stuff is expensive, so I put garden soil in half of each little pot and then used the seed starting soil on the top.  As Kathy suggested, I kept the seeds moist.  As the seed packet explained they needed to be "surface sown," meaning planted on top of the dirt with little or no dirt covering them.  I thought this was unusual as I have always covered my seeds, but as I said before I have never been successful, so I was up for trying it!


I planted 2 seeds in each compartment and I will cut off the weaker looking plant.  Out of the 9 tomato varieties I planted, 8 had 100 percent germination rate.  Or so I thought.  Can you tell by the above picture that this orange and green variety had no seeds germinate?  I was SO disappointed.  Then, I looked at the cells next to it...


Yes, this is what happens when you garden with a 2 and 5 year old!  It will be a mystery of which it which!  

Now that I figured out that I can start the seeds, my problem is going to be making sure that they plants don't get "leggy."  I have them in the only Southern facing window in our house and they do get sun light.  It would be really cool to have a grow light, but they just are not in a small gardeners budget.  For the time being, my kids are having fun pretending to be the "wind" and blowing on the seedlings whenever they have the chance.  I'm trying to keep them moist and crossing my fingers for some healthy transplants!

If you are considering starting a garden (or if you already have one) I strongly urge you to check out the amazing selection of organic, no GMO, heirloom seeds at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds!  Their shipping is reasonably (a flat rate) and their seed packets average around $2.00 each.  After placing my personal order, I had the seeds in my hands in 4 days, so they are fast too! You can't beat 100% germination either!

For more of our kids in the garden posts with ideas on how to use your garden as a learning garden, click here!




Toy Organization at Our House

Toy Organization for Toddlers and Preschoolers from The Educators' Spin On It

The Playroom

I, Amanda,  like to think of my dining room, aka playroom, as our classroom.  I think about the things that I want my tot to interact with and learn about during his day and make sure that he has the space to do these things. (Don't worry, we still have a table and eat meals together as a family in our tiny breakfast nook area!)  Like Kim talked about here, using stations is a great way to stay organized. 

This month, I am focusing on reading, interacting with books, and pretend play. You can see that I have a kitchen station and a reading station set up in our playroom.  The shelf my husband built for our books lets each book sit facing towards the room.  It may not hold a lot of books, but the kids are more inclined to read them when they see the covers rather than the book's spine. For all the small kitchen related food and toys, I keep a basket near the kitchen.  We tried putting them back in the kitchen, but it wasn't working.  A basket to stuff the small items into is suiting our family much better. 

Toy Rotation

It's Not Just A Diaper Change

Sometimes changing a diaper can mean a lot more to your baby than you think. 

Tips for Baby Diaper Changing Time for Parents for even the most active babies and toddlers from The Educators' Spin On It


How many times do you change a diaper in your child's day?  I know I've stopped counting by this point with my daughter.  But here's a secret, don't tell my husband or else it's my job forever, but I enjoy the time it takes to change my children's diapers.  I know it sounds funny but it's true and I hope you'll agree with me on why. 

Quality Time with Babies During Diaper Changing 

Little Hands that Cook with Books: Heart Healthy Foods


Let's talk about Eating Heart Healthy Food with Little Hands that Cook with Books! We love our children and want what is best for them and their health.  I thought this would be the perfect time to teach our little ones about their heart and how to make it strong and healthy. 

Heart Healthy Books

Here are some book we found to learn about our Heart. {Contains Amazon Affiliate links}  

Hear Your Heart (Let's-Read-And-Find-Out Science: Stage 1 by Paul Showers 

The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen


American Heart Association Kids' Cookbook


My Heart Is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall

I just added this one for fun.  We had fun creating Heart Animals inspired from this book. 

Make your Heart Healthy Energy Bar

They're so easy to make at home, not to mention versatile (you can play around with the types of nuts and additional dried fruits you use)  We decided it would be fun to make our own Larabar-type energy bars. All you need is a food processor, dried fruit (mostly dates), nuts, and spices. Here's a basic recipe (the amounts are approximate) Since you are using a food processor with child present please use extreme caution.  Children can be great helpers but this is a perfect time to talk about kitchen safety and following directions at all times in the kitchen. 

Heart Healthy Energy Bars

Ingredients


  • 1 pound of dates
  • 1 cup of nuts (almonds and cashews)
  • Handful of dried cranberries
  • Couple of dried apricots
  • Spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Handful of coconut flakes

Directions


  1. Put the dates and nuts into the food processor
  2. Chop the dates and any other dried fruits that you are using in a food processor(Adult Job).
  3. Scoop the resulting paste aside
  4. Finely grind the nuts and spices. (Adult Job)
  5. Mix the fruits and nuts together, kneading the mixture into a lightly greased pan (or one that is covered in wax paper).
  6. Flatten the mixture down by covering it with plastic wrap and pressing down and shaping with the back of a spoon.
  7. Then cool in the refrigerator overnight.
  8. Cut the mixture into individual bars or use a COOKIE Cutter to create shapes, tightly wrapping each with plastic wrap and storing in the refrigerator

Other Great Sources for Energy Bar Recipes

Heart Healthy Recipes from the American Heart Association

Heart Healthy Activities for Kids 

After reading our books about our heart we played a few activities. 
  • Can you Feel It?
Exercise is so important for children and adults.  We spent some time talking about ways that we can move to make our heart move and exercise and made a list.  We also played a game called "Can You Feel it" to find out if we can feel our hearts beating.  As we were doing the lesson I had them feel their hearts during idle moments and then I would have them do different activities to change their heart rates.  We recorded our results on which activities made our hearts exercise and added some more suggestions. 
  • Activities for Heart Healthy Game  
Jumping Jacks
Listening to story
Push Ups
Coloring picture
Sit ups
Yoga Pose-Butterfly
Dancing
Mixing ingredients


  • Mommy and Me Heart Themed Movement Activities 
Week 1

  • Heart Healthy Food Sort
I created pictures of foods that are heart healthy and foods that are not so healthy.  We played a game by sorting them into groups
  • Heart Healthy Facts Printable


Printables for Heart Healthy Activities from Nourish Interactive

The American Heart Association recommends this eating pattern for families:
  • Energy (calories) should be adequate to support growth and development and to reach or maintain desirable body weight.
  • Eat foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
  • Keep total fat intake between 30 to 35 percent of calories for children 2 to 3 years of age and between 25 to 35 percent of calories for children and adolescents 4 to 18 years of age, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts and vegetable oils.
  • Choose a variety of foods to get enough carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients.
  • Eat only enough calories to maintain a healthy weight for your height and build. Be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day.
  • Serve whole-grain/high-fiber breads and cereals rather than refined grain products. Look for “whole grain” as the first ingredient on the food label and make at least half your grain servings whole grain. Recommended grain intake ranges from 2 oz./day for a one-year-old to 7 oz./day for a 14–18-year-old boy.
  • Serve a variety of fruits and vegetables daily, while limiting juice intake. Each meal should contain at least 1 fruit or vegetable. Children’s recommended fruit intake ranges from 1 cup/day, between ages 1 and 3, to 2 cups for a 14–18-year-old boy. Recommended vegetable intake ranges from ¾ cup a day at age one to 3 cups for a 14–18-year-old boy.
  • Introduce and regularly serve fish as an entrée. Avoid commercially fried fish.
  • Serve fat-free and low-fat dairy foods. From ages 1–8, children need 2 cups of milk or its equivalent each day. Children ages 9–18 need 3 cups.
  • Don’t overfeed. Estimated calories needed by children range from 900/day for a 1-year-old to 1,800 for a 14–18-year-old girl and 2,200 for a 14–18-year-old boy.
This eating pattern supports a child's normal growth and development. It provides enough total energy and meets or exceeds the recommended daily allowances for all nutrients for children and adolescents, including iron and calcium.
Source:  American Heart Association

This post was written to promote the heart project.  Need more info?  What is The Heart Project

Hope your little ones enjoy learning about their heart and how important it is to our health.  If you are looking for more Healthy Eating Tips stop by our Food Groups Series called Balanced Eating Fun from Little Hands that Cooks with Books
Wishing you Happy Healthy Hearts!  

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